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Employability Skills

Developing Professionalism

Striving for excellence is an important part of professionalism in any job. It involves trying to put quality into everything you do, and this attitude tends to separate the achievers, who make rapid strides in their career from others. Here are some of the attributes that these individuals tend to have.


  • Use initiative to act on opportunities. Become a leader before other people view you as one. Healthy organisations reward those who take the lead, not just those with formal management roles.
  • Take responsibility for own objectives: set priorities. 
  • Display a "can do" attitude even in demanding situations. Try to solve problems, rather than to pass them on to other people. First answer is ‘yes, I’ll make it happen' "Go the extra mile" when asked to do tasks. Go beyond your job description. Do work that gets you noticed.
  • Show enthusiasm: this will be noticed and you will eventually be rewarded.
  • Take ownership of problems: anticipate potential problems, take pre-emptive action and act quickly to resolve problems.
  • Introduce improvements to the way things are done. 
  • Develop innovative practices. Value innovative thinking.
  • Learn new skills that will enhance capability.
  • Common sense is not common!

Inspiring, positive, determined!

  • Give assistance to others. Respond positively to requests for help. 
  • Clarify the way forward for others.
  • Empower others: great people help others to become great whereas weak individuals try to hold others back.
  • Recognise that each person has a unique perspective.
  • Have self-confidence and inspire confidence in team members. Believe the team will be successful. 
  • Remain self-motivated even when things are going wrong.
  • Recognise and draw attention to contributions from team members and give positive feedback
  • Maintain networks of colleagues. Get to know as many people in your organisation and industry as you can.
  • Learn from your mistakes: they are just as useful as your successes 
  • Watch others who do their job really well and try to emulate what makes them successful.

Quality and professionalism

  • Check the quality of your own work. 
  • Set out a clear vision of what is required for success. 
  • Compare the risks and benefits. Take calculated risks
  • See the bigger picture.
  • Give priority to customers. 

Negative Performers

  • Are content to leave performance at existing levels: show little interest in developing their skills further. 
  • Disown responsibility for their own tasks.
  • Distance themselves from responsibility for the team's performance.
  • Give up in the face of obstacles and don’t demonstrate a sense of personal responsibility for delivery.
  • Take a narrow focus, taking decisions in the interest of their own team or self
  • Are risk adverse: undermine confidence by focusing on difficulties, problems and obstacles.
  • Act as if ‘knowledge is power’: reluctant to pass on their skills to others
  • Don't involve team members where appropriate.
  • React to symptoms rather than trying to understand the underlying causes. 
  • Are resistant to change
  • Avoid difficult conversations and confrontation.

How to turn a negative outlook into a positive one.

  • Cultivate a "can do" approach. Take greater responsibility for your decisions and actions. Don't pull yourself down: focus on what you can do rather than what you can't. Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Use positive language: praise and show appreciation of others. 
  • Take regular exercise: this will release endorphins - brain chemicals which make you feel good.
  • 80% of the things that we worry about never happen and most of those that do we learn how to cope with. Worry is about the future, not the present. When a problem arrives we learn to cope with it. 
  • Compare yourself with other less well off than yourself rather than those better off. For example with people in developing countries who have nothing but are still often cheerful whereas many rich people in Western countries are unhappy. 
  • Count your blessings. Each day write down at least three things to be grateful for. People who have done this have found an increase in happiness. Remember what you like about yourself. Looking at the glass as half empty rather than half full can make you focus on trivial problems. 
  • Action generates the impetus for further action. The more you take control of your circumstances, the better you will feel. 
  • Resilience involves reacting positively to negative outcomes. Learning to cope with adversity makes you stronger: helps in teaching us how to bounce back. The most successful people are often those who have had the most failures: they are more adventurous and learn from their mistakes. If you have never had a failure, you have never taken a risk. Failures should be thought of as opportunities for learning: you learn far more from your failures than from your successes.